Kravitz admitted he was wrong. The offers did get better as time passed
OK, I'll admit it, this was probably the best Pacers cooumn Bob has ever written.
And it makes me wonder if the Pacers did not pull out of the Maggette trade partially because of his injury and partially because they received word the Kings were willing to trade Peja.
Peck, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the quote from DW that I highlighted about falling in love with talent. Somehting you have been saying for a couple of years now
Pacers made the best of a wretched situation
January 26, 2006
So it's over. The strange and twisted saga of the Indiana Pacers and Ron Artest, a marquee player who made himself into a sideshow, is finished. The trade is finally official, although there's still the possibility Artest will decide this morning he's retiring to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut.
Assuming this is done, though, you have to conclude the Pacers did a pretty fine job salvaging a horrible situation.
This would have been a sweeter deal back when the Pacers first wanted to acquire Peja Stojakovic -- if only the Kings would have cooperated -- but team president Larry Bird and team CEO Donnie Walsh are still getting a former All-Star back for a knucklehead who was never going to play for this franchise again.
And they are doing something very few sports executives are willing to do: Acknowledge that despite their best intentions, they made serious mistakes in the way they handled Artest.
"My way has always been to support players,'' Walsh said. "And if anything, I've probably gone too far with Ronnie because I thought he was a young player who was going to learn how to do things. And over the years, when he'd do things, I felt like he'd learn from it and things would get better.
"But he generated so much attention, and it got so much bigger than it was. At a point, I thought what he told me was true: Anything he did here was going to be blown up and affect his teammates. The more I thought about it (the night after his public trade request), the more I thought that it was absolutely true, that it wasn't going to work here and that no matter how much support we gave him, it was just over and we had to move on.
"I feel like it was a failure in a sense. And if anything, I felt like we went too long with it.''
For the most part, the Pacers stayed with Artest for all the best reasons, because they thought they could turn him around. But, Walsh admitted, they were blinded.
"As somebody who's done it for 40 years, you fall in love with talent,'' Walsh said. "Many times in my career, I've thought maybe you shouldn't fall in love with talent; there are other attributes. Unfortunately, in our business, you fall in love with talent.''
Bird offered similar sentiments.
"Over the last four, five years, you've seen some of the things, and maybe we did bend over too much for Ronnie to try to help him,'' Bird said. "But I can sleep good at night, knowing we did the best we could.''
Their mea culpas were not the only ones Wednesday.
Here's mine: Upon further review, the front office made the right move by taking its time moving Artest. This wasn't a deal that could have been made a few weeks ago. In fact, once word got out that the Clippers were ready to acquire Artest for Corey Maggette, other suitors ratcheted up their interest.
Did the Pacers get equal value?
Well, if you're asking whether Stojakovic rates with Artest as a player, the obvious answer is no. When Artest's head is right, he's a top-15 player. For a Kings franchise that was going nowhere fast this season, obtaining Artest was a risk well worth taking.
If you're asking whether the Pacers are better off with Stojakovic than Artest, there's an obvious answer there, too: absolutely.
It's no secret around the NBA that Stojakovic isn't the player he once was. He's had injury problems. His scoring and shooting percentage numbers have dipped dramatically in recent years. He has the reputation as an indifferent defender who disappears in the playoffs.
I still like the trade.
The Pacers got a former All-Star.
They got someone who plays the small forward, which allows Stephen Jackson to do what he was supposed to do here: play the two-guard and operate as a third scoring option.
They got someone who can shoot, open up the floor and make the Pacers more fun to watch.
They got someone who is highly motivated to produce in what is essentially a contract year.
And, who knows? Maybe with a change of scenery, and a head coach who demands defensive accountability, and the presence of his idol, Bird, on the premises, he resurrects his game here.
This may not be the trade that turns around a Pacers season that has begun to circle the drain, but this will, at the very least, reduce the number of excuses currently at the players' disposal. This gives them a much-needed mental kick-start, and a long-awaited sense that the age of anarchy is finally over.
"In the end,'' Walsh was asked, "why do you think it came to this?''
"That's a great question,'' he answered. "I think it's a collision of worlds. Maybe this wasn't the right team for a guy like Ronnie. And by us supporting him, it was getting worse and worse, and we didn't see it because we thought we could make it better. I know this: It was all well-intentioned by everybody involved, but after a while, too many things happened . . .''
In the long run, it could turn out that Sacramento got the best in the deal.
And yet, this was the only way this mess could have been resolved. The Pacers got more than some of us figured they would. It was all anybody could ask.